No election pay for teachers? Comelec warns vs reenacted budget ahead of midterm polls

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 01 2019 03:49 PM | Updated as of Feb 14 2019 06:35 PM

Election officers assist a policeman during the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls in Manila, May 14, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) warned lawmakers Friday against implementing a reenacted budget in light of expenses for the upcoming midterm polls.

While preparations for the May elections were included in last year's budget, Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez noted that the pay for those who will work on election day, including teachers, was not considered.

"Maraming items na kakailanganin sa 2019 na di nakalagay sa 2018 [budget], primarily the honoraria ng ating election workers," he said during a press briefing.

(Many items needed this year were not included in the 2018 budget, primarily the honoraria for our election workers.)

The Comelec needs P3.2 billion to cover pay for teachers, who are tapped to man polling precincts every election year, and other election workers, Jimenez said.

Under the national expenditure program, the Comelec said it was only allotted P1.9 billion, which would not be enough to pay election workers.

"Nananawagan po kami sa Kongreso to sana (we are asking Congress to hopefully) keep this on top of mind in their deliberations in the coming days. We hope that this is not lost in the shuffle," he said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday said he would propose that the Senate withdraw its version of the 2019 General Appropriations Act, paving the way for a reenacted budget.

Sotto cited "numerous allegations" surrounding the 2019 budget proposal such as supposed insertions.

House appropriations committee chairman Rolando Andaya Jr. appealed to the Senate not to abandon bicameral hearings on the budget, saying the House was against a reenacted budget.

Jimenez said a reenacted budget would have a "pronounced impact" on the poll body's ability to conduct elections as the Comelec does not have a backup source of funding in case the 2019 national budget is rejected.

"We don't think that a reenacted budget at this time would be innocuous from the point of view of elections," he said.

In a statement Saturday, Sen. Bam Aquino said teachers are "essential to the success of the 2019 elections."

“Dapat bigyang halaga ang pagsisikap at paghihirap ng mga teacher sa halalan. Sa totoo lang po, sila ang tunay na bayani ng darating na eleksyon,” he said.

Aquino assured that the Senate bicameral conference committee is determined to pass the 2019 budget next week.

“Gagawin natin ang lahat para masigurong mababayaran ang ating mga guro sa kanilang trabaho sa darating na halalan. Biyan natin sila ng karampatang pagkilala at huwag ibitin ang mga kompensasyon at benepisyong itinakda ng batas para sa kanila,” he said.